Poem, by Robert Garnham



At what point does a mess become a muddle?
At what point does day become the night?
At what point does a spillage become a puddle?
At what point does a shudder become a fright?

At what point does a brag become a boast?
At what point does a mess become a fuss?
At what point does bread become toast?
At what point does a train become a rail replacement bus?

At what point do we become middle aged?
And do we only know we are middle aged when we’ve lived
Our whole lives?
Is it only then that we can look back and say, oh yes,
That’s when I was middle aged, that’s when I had a
Midlife crisis,
The day I went out and bought a jet Ski?

At what point does a crowd become a throng?
At what point do pants become a thong?
At what point does a dirge become a song?
At what point does a whiff become a pong?

At what point does a settee become a sofa?
At what point does a look become a demeanour?
At what point does a pamphlet become a brochure?
At what point does a verbal warning become a grievance procedure?

At what point did I decide that maybe you weren’t the one for me?
Was if at the opera, or was it in the supermarket?
Or was it that time I came home and found you in bed
With a stamp collector from Barnstaple?

At what point does a trumpet become a bugle?
At what point does an imposition become an impertinence?
At what point does prudent become frugal?
At what point does a TV advert become a nuisance?

At what point does pruned become sheared?
At what point does uncanny become weird?
At what point does stubble become a beard?
At what point does a poem not have to rhyme?

At what point do we lose ourselves to the delirium of the
Beauty of the world of the planet of the people of the creatures
Of the moon of the tides of the sea of the land of the cities of the
Absolute if the spiritual of the technological or the brave of the bountiful
Of the beautiful, possibly at two PM on a Thursday afternoon.

At what point does it all become meaningless?

Three Poems from Daniel Ryan



Cake for breakfast is never a sin;
Those in the know, know it’s the only way to begin.
Drugs, guns, smoking, pornography, copious gin
Are the definition of real, unforgivable morning sins.
Those in the know, know it’s the only way to begin;
Cake for breakfast is never a sin.
Whether it’s pre-meditated or on a whim;
Cake is the only way for a day to begin.

The Bad Poet

I used to want to be a poet,
I’d write about important stuff,
about life & death & chocolate cake,
I used to want to be a poet.
I’d write about important stuff,
I’d be a beardy old man with a pen
writing about important things.
I used to be want to be a poet,
I just can’t write the bloody stuff.

The Problem of the Washing Up

Stacked high in the sink,
greasy eyesores that make you think

‘Who’s going to wash the dishes?’
Pots, pans, cutlery and of course

the dirty, manky dishes.
It keeps you awake at night

and goes against all your wishes
‘Who’s going to wash the dishes?’

A question that’s plagued man
since the dawn of time

‘Who’s going to wash the dishes?’
Saying it’s someone else’s turn

certainly won’t ever, ever fix it.
Aristotle, Plato, Friedrich Nietzsche

all wanted to know
‘Who’s going to wash the dishes?’

Bio: Daniel Ryan writes hilarious comic verse and the world is oblivious.

Three Poems from Mandy Mcdonald


Prufrock’s dillybag

What is the thing with feathers?
Who said, ’Peacock pie’?
What are the heights of the mountains
where the beautiful go to die?

And will you remember your cat,
smart Jeoffrey (for he can creep!),
when you are old and grey, like
an old half-witted sheep?

If we could stop all the clocks,
would that stop envious Time
from running out his race?
And would that be such a crime?

But what if I never speed?
Shall I never feel the thrill
of the Bacchic dance, the fine romance,
before I’m over the hill?

Dare I eat a peach, right here on the beach,
my trousers as white as lambswool?
Murmur softly to you, ‘Shall we dance?’
Do you think it would be too fanciful?

O Pussy my dear, to a small guitar,
let’s sing to the stars above,
‘Do androids dream of electric sheep?
And what is this thing called love?’


Rejection note

Dear Mr Golding,
We regret to tell you that we are unable to accept
the manuscript of your novel for publication.
Our readers have perused it with careful attention
and are unanimous in concluding that it is
entirely unsuitable for our primary readership.
They find the story implausible, the characters
universally unlikeable,
the tone depressing, the theme itself unedifying, in fact
destructively controversial. This is an ugly tale
without redeeming features. We suggest
severe revision will be necessary if you intend

to offer Lord of the Flies to other publishers.
Frances Mainwaring (Miss),
MacPherson Children’s Fiction

(3) … and a senryu:

noooo, not me again!
why must it always be me?
bloody Delius …

Mandy Macdonald is an Australian writer and musician living in Aberdeen. You can find her in excellent company in anthologies such as Extraordinary Forms (Grey Hen Press), Aiblins: New Scottish Political Poetry (Luath), and A Bee’s Breakfast (Beautiful Dragons), and assorted print and online journals. When not writing, she sings.

Takeaway, by Vince Horsman


I see you hanging on my arm.
​Neat brown paper oozing charm.
​Resplendent and silver-cased,
​you typified the best in taste.

You were prawn crackers, when last we met.
Your rich perfume, I smell it yet.
​Chop suey with ribs to spare.
​You touched my lips without a care.

​During that most playful hour,
​I found that you were sweet and sour.
​You even had prawn balls, I’d say.
​Which must have made you walk that way.

​16, 30, 24,
​There aren’t numbers like that any more.
​A shadow of your former self,
​lies in my fridge upon the shelf.

​You lasted but one night my friend.
​Then your existence reached an end.
​Life is empty without you, how
​I miss you so – at least for now.

​A rose by any other name
​You take-aways are all the same
​And after all is said and done,
​Quite soon I’ll want another one!

Vince has been writing poems for some decades now. Much of his work is humorous as he sees it his
duty to amuse and entertain. His general life experience and a short period of UK primary school teaching have influenced his work. Often his poems are aimed at children.

The Walrus, the Carpenter and the Grubbertun by Mark Farley


“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of made-up words.
Like squigs and numps and pollypots
and limping chumper-gurds.
And don’t forget the melonchop,
or hamstrung wobblebirds.”

“And bunglehops!” the Oysters cried,
“And ogs and togmatims!
We can’t ignore the ruzzarats,
or gamagonapins.”
“Or channies,” said the Carpenter,
“including those with wings.”

They talked so long into the night,
their sparkhog flame unspun,
and soon they were circumbled
by janks of grubbertun.
They drew their blades of vinglesteel
but perished, every one.

So when you talk of made-up words,
keep scowley on the plare.
Prockle down and danderbout.
Cronkerbot your nare.
Those grubbertun have swingle eyes,
so for Mongle’s sake, beware!

Mark Farley is a writer, web developer and occasional opera singer. He was raised in Zimbabwe where he survived two dog maulings, a swarm of killer bees, and being run over by a horse. He now lives in Swindon, UK. Find him on Twitter (@mumbletoes) or via his blog.

Hen Party, by Belinda Rimmer


Hen Party

The afternoon was hot and steamy,
made worse by all of us crammed into one room.
With open hearts and lipstick kisses,
we raised a glass or two or three
to the bride-to-be.

An artist breezed in murmuring something
about a life drawing class.
He prepped us on perspective,
shading and how to furnish stick men
with all the necessary bits.

Some of us coughed, others laughed
and the bride-to-be said: bring it on.

We waited for our life model.
Had anyone seen him?
He’d either taken a liking to the bathroom
or a disliking to us,
or else had suffered stage fright.

Finally, he appeared,
fake-tanned and on the wrong side of forty.

Our fidgety embarrassment
dripped and seeped
into curtains, carpet and settee
as we willed him to put away
the pendulous dead weight,
silvery fish-scale of a thing,
so disproportionately large
for such a thin body.

Belinda has worked as a psychiatric nurse, counsellor and lecturer. She has also taught creative arts in primary schools. Her poems have been published in magazines and on-line. She won the Poetry in Motion Competition as part of Cheltenham Poetry Festival and came second in her first poetry slam.


Swans, by Sue Spiers


Pipe-cleaner necks twisting under tails
Mucky rumps of algae from the creek
They preen their plumage snowy pale
Pristined to clean by amber beaks

The grooming pair, male on the bank
Female in the water, ignore our cry
Of hello, we fetch a loaf and throw a chunk
Of soaring bread to catch their eye

The movement makes her stare and soon
She’s swimming to our grassy shore
Wings arched like an angel’s, the swan
Dabbles for the soggy crumbs, wants more

Her mate launches into her wake
And pleads mutely for his feed
But dominates, makes her wait, takes
More than he’s due, it’s plainly greed

The bread is scattered left and right
To even odds so she’s not robbed
Her feed is lobbed out of his sight
But really we can’t tell pen from cob.

Sue Spiers has a collection called Jiggle Sac, styled after the anthology Rattle Bag in that the poems are in alphabetical order. However, Sue doesn’t rattle and is not a bag. When not jiggling (rare), Sue is SIG Sec for British Mensa and on Twitter @spiropoetry

Two Poems from Rose Cook



extinguisher – used to be a good triangle player
coffee – a bronchial exponent of caffeine
Deptford – an old pickup truck ( preferably orange and rusty)
Greenwich – a mouldy sandwich
Woolwich – a knitted sandwich
socket – a rolled sock used as a missile
concomitant – accomplished with the vigour of a russian aunt
apprehension – the moment before realising you have forgotten something
kinaesthetic – the beauty of relatives
sod – a sod
maritime – the end of childhood
concentration – a game involving remembering things on a tray
detergent – protective perfume which repels men
counsellor – someone who listens sitting down
overcast – as performed by trainee fishermen with a tendancy to enthusiasm
predatory – a historic time before the custom of wooing became fashionable
tarnished – to be covered in a black glossy coat of tar
prickle – a small prick

Night City

The moon shines down on the city.
Romeo and Juliet dance in a car park,
silent, but for the swing of the sign.
Their bikes are parked next to Macbeth’s,
who is wishing he felt clear about where
he has been all night. He’s due in the City at ten,
in a meeting with some hip-hop Hamlet,
a cockney cowboy from Hackney, who knows Othello well.
Says he’s a buyer, sells art to robots in office blocks.

Three miles away, King Lear’s a zombie,
naked in a penthouse. He sits cross-legged
and chain smokes, desperate to think up a new ending.
In the distance, a figure limps homeward, alone.
It’s Richard III, off to his pacifist wife. He lives quietly now,
teaches Kung-Fu, plays with his sons. They love dinosaurs.

Rose Cook lives in Totnes. She co-founded the popular local poetry and performance forum One Night Stanza, as well as poetry performance group Dangerous Cardigans.

She is one of Apples & Snakes’ poets and has performed at many venues from the Soho Theatre in London to the Blue Walnut in Torquay.

Her latest book Hearth is published by Cultured Llama.

The Richard Dawkins Delusion by God, by Mary Dickins


Pray Richard, can you tell me, what purpose will there be
if you become a deity on earth
instead of me?

I’m here in every particle, every cranny, every rock.
I have endless manifestations,
I think you should take stock.

I spent several millennia shaping sky and earth and sea.
I’ve minded all creation,
enabled it to be.

It’s me who made the rational, the concrete all that kind.
And may I remind you Richard
I also made your mind.

I slipped up with the famine and the suffering and the war,
but then again it’s likely
that’s what humankind is for.

As regards the bigger picture you will never come to know
how and why you got here
or where you’re going to go.

It really doesn’t bother me that you do not believe.
You are the loser in the end-
for I could help you grieve.

Your expose was riveting- I devoured every line.
So I’ll cast off my divinity
when your books sell as well as mine!

I am the elemental force that forged your skin and bone,
but Richard when you call me
I’ll ignore the celestial phone

We must agree to disagree but just before we’re through
may I say that I don’t like you
or believe that you are true.

Mary Dickins has written poetry since she was four but didn’t tell anyone until much later. She has a tendency to rhyme for which she refuses to apologise. She performs in a variety of venues and circumstances and some poems have been published. She has recently been on tele and radio as part of the Nationwide Building Society poetry ad campaign.